Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto
President: John W. Barker,
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Saturday, October 18, 1980
- 9:00 a.m.
- 11:40 a.m., GENERAL SESSION
Welcome: J. Ambrose Raftis, President, Pontifical Institute of
Astrik L. Gabriel, University of Notre Dame
P. Osmund Lewry, Blackfriars, Oxford, England
20 minute break (approximately 10:10 - 10:30)
Presiding: Richard R. Ring, University of Kansas
Allen J. Frantzen, Loyola University of Chicago
Patricia A. DeLeeuw, Boston College
12:15 p.m. Luncheon and Business Meeting
- 4:30 p.m., GENERAL SESSION
Barbara M. Kreutz, Bryn Mawr College
Julius Kirshner, University of Chicago
Malcolm C. Burson, Dalhousie University
15 minute break (approximately 3:15 - 3:30)
"Whither Research in Toronto: Collective - Individual"
Chair: J. Ambrose Raftis
Mid-Year Update Letter
January 28, 1980
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
The Midwest Medieval Conference's tradition of a mid-year circular letter from the new President has fallen into neglect of late. But it is one that seems to me worth reviving, especially since many who missed the last of our gatherings, at Collegeville, Minn., might well want some report on it and on plans for the next meeting.
Enjoying the hospitality of St. John's University, its faculty, and its facilities, the Seventeenth Annual Midwest Medieval Conference held a most enjoyable and satisfying meeting, with all thanks to Fr. Wilfred Theisen and his local arrangements committee. Randy Daniel and his associates organized a program firmly and aptly focused on medieval monastic culture, climaxed by an absorbing presentation by Paul Meyvaert, following the banquet, on the Ruthwell Cross.
In its formal transactions, the Conference elected its new slate of officers, as follows: [see officers above]. For the 1980 meeting of the Conference, the invitation of The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto was accepted, for the date of October 18, 1980
We expect a gala gathering in Toronto, and plans are already in progress. I have invited Louise Robbert, of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, to plan the program. We have already arranged for our banquet speaker, the distinguished historian of the Crusades, Hans Eberhard Mayer, who will talk on "The Marital Scandals of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem" -- sure to be a lively finale to a memorable conference! Only with respect to quality should that contribution be taken as a clue to plans for the rest of the program. Especially in view of the closely focused meeting this past year, it seems best not to posit any central theme or topic for the 1980 gathering as a whole. Instead, proposals of quality for papers on any and all topics will be welcomed, and decisions will be made entirely on individual merits. No definitive rules on length are laid down, but twenty-minute papers are to be considered the preferred format, while shorter ones are encouraged, and thirty minutes will be regarded as the maximum acceptable length, with proper justification. An abstract of the projected paper, of from 500 to 1,000 words, as appropriate, is required for each proposal. This to to be sent to: Prof. Louise Robbert, Department of History, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 8001 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis, Mo. 63121. The deadline for abstracts is April 15, 1980, and decisions on the program will be announced to all who have made proposals within a month. The full information of the Conference program and reservations will be mailed to everyone, as usual, in early September.
Finally, our Indefatigable Secretary, Skip Kay, is using the occasion of this mailing to circulate the Conference's current mailing-list, to seek your help in up-dating it. He will welcome (ecstatically, no doubt) any advice on names to be dropped, added, or relocated.
Looking forward to seeing you this coming October in Toronto,
With all good wishes,
John W. Barker
Because our eighteenth meeting was held under the august presidency of John Barker, I though it would be only appropriate to cast the annual minutes in the form of a Byzantine opera. But given my native inability to carry a tune, and, according to some, even to keep time, the problems of production have seemed insurmountable, and accordingly this worthy project must, with regret, be left to some more talented successor. Instead, I shall take my theme from our amiable host, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, which among other things, has made Toronto the Mecca, as it were, of Scholasticism. Hence it has seemed fitting that the minutes of the Toronto meeting should take the form of an academic question in the approved scholastic form. Wherefore, I propose to dispute before you today this extremely subtle question, to wit: WHETHER TORONTO WAS A SUITABLE PLACE FOR A MEETING OF THE MIDWEST MEDIEVAL CONFERENCE?
PRIMO, it is objected that Toronto is unsuitably located in Canada, which is in the extreme northern climate of the world where, as Pliny say in the first book of his Historia Naturalis (c. 80), "dangerous wild beasts are found" and even the men there "are fierce, owing to the rigidity [sic] of the climate" and are "quite detached and solitary on account of the savagery of the nature that brooks over those regions." And this opinion was confirmed by experience of the climate on October 17, 1980, when the sun was not visible by day and rain poured down in torrents by night.
SECUNDO, it is objected that Toronto is not in the Midwest, for as a certain poet has truly said, "East is East and West is West / And never the twain shall meet" [Kipling]. And, as is well known, Toronto is in Canada, and Canada lies to the north of the Unites States; ergo, Toronto must also lie in the north. Hence it cannot be in the Midwest.
TERTIO, it is objected that foreign travel is not worth the great cost, for as the Dramatist has said, "to be a traveler is to have rich eyes and poor hands"; and again, "When I was at home, I was in a better place" [As you Like It, 2].
ON THE CONTRARY, it is written in Matthew (12:42) that "the queen of the South came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon." And in the third book of Kings (10:6-7) it is written further that when she had seen his magnificence, she said to him: "The report is true, which I heard in my own country concerning they words, and concerning thy wisdom. And I did not believe them that told me, till I came myself, and saw with my own eyes, and have found that the half hath not been told me: thy wisdom and thy works exceed the fame which I heard." And these words can be applied in the moral sense to the Midwest Medieval Conference, id est "the queen of the South."
I ANSWER THAT the quality of the eighteenth conference was outstanding from first to last, as the record will bear witness. Hence that record must itself constitute the body of my argument, and I shall read it in its entirety forthwith:
The program was selected by a zealous committee, headed by Louise Robbert (Saint Louis), who was assisted by Richard Ring (Kansas) and Roger Reynolds (PIMS). After a welcome from our host, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, delivered by its president, Ambrose Raftis, the morning session began with a virtuoso presentation by Canon Astrik Gabriel, who told us how Jodocus Clichtoveus, a Paris theologian, advised a Hungarian bishop who had been his student. Another view of university life was shown by Father Osmund Lewry, of Blackfriars, Oxford, who described the curriculum at Paris in the mid-thirteenth century as it appears in two compendia of the liberal arts that were cram books for the baccalaureate examination.
A second pair of papers concerned the early medieval church. Allen Frantzen (Loyola--Chicago) explained that the earliest Old English penitentials were translated in the tenth century from Latin texts that were compiled, not, as has long been supposed, in Anglo-Saxon England, but rather in East Frankland. Next, Patricia DeLeeuw (Boston College) explored the possibility that the cult of saints' relics flourished in the parish churches of northern Europe because it fitted the Germanic folk expectation of miracles wrought by, or at least through, local potentates. Her controversial thesis evoked a discussion without precedent for its vivacity and length.
Thus stimulated, we retired to a nearby convent for lunch, which was duly followed by the annual business meeting under the presidency of our autocrator, John Barker (Wisconsin). Before all else, the conference hastened to thank Roger Reynolds and Ambrose Raftis for the admirable local arrangements. The minutes were then presented, in dialogue form, and, as a result, were more farcical than ever. There was no nonsense from the nominating committee, however. Its report, presented by Marcia Colish (Oberlin), suggested the following officers for the coming year: president: John Contreni (Purdue); vice-president: Tim Runyan (Cleveland); councillors: Joseph Lynch (Ohio State) and David Wagner (Northern Illinois); and secretary-treasurer: Richard Kay (Kansas). It being moved and seconded that the slate be approved by acclamation, it was so acclaimed.
Our delegate to the CARA meeting at Dumbarton Oaks, Julian Plante (Saint John's) reported in detail the reasons for supposing that medieval studies in America were flourishing, with the prospect of further government grants still in view hardly a month before the election of Ronald Reagan.
Councillor-elect Lynch then rose to invite the conference to meet next year at Ohio State University, and this opportunity was unanimously seized by the forelock. Not to be outdone, President-elect Contreni next arose to extend an invitation to come to Purdue the year after that (1982); which the conference, more accustomed to looking backwards some hundreds of years than forwards as much as two, accepted with awe, duly mixed, of course, with gratitude. Finally, the president, having received a silent motion to adjourn, which had been just as silently seconded, so ordered.
The afternoon program began with three papers on social and economic topics. First, Barbara Kreutz (Bryn Mawr) explained why southern Italy was so attractive to the Ottonian emperors, namely because trade with the Moslems had made it the richest part of Europe. Next, with Julius Kirshner (Chicago) we viewed some highpoints of the late-medieval Monti di pietā, which turned out to be not only pawnshops for the poor but also a means of paying public debts by selling annuities, sometimes even to cardinals, without incurring papal condemnation as usury (pace Ezra Pound!). Then Malcom Burson (Dalhousie) distributed a map which enabled us to follow the careers of regional English clergymen as patronage moved them from benefice to benefice.
The afternoon ended with a roundtable on the theme "Wither Research in Toronto?" Reports were heard on a learned though odd assortment of projects including the Dictionary of Old English, an edition of the works of Erasmus, an index of texts in Medieval Greek, and, of course, the Regional Social History Project. Considering that only the last-named project, directed by Father Raftis, touched the interests of most historians present, the other projects elicited a remarkable display of attention that was especially directed at the means by which these gargantuan enterprises were being funded.
Leaving heady visions of grantsmanship behind us, we trekked downtown for a reception and dinner at the Holiday Inn. Not long afterwards, Hans Eberhard Meyer (Kiel) sought to divert us with "The Marital Scandals of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem," whose repeated failures to produce an heir might have been due to inability on the king's part, or perhaps to his temperamental lack of interest. Nothing then remained but the president's climactic reception, which fulfilled even the expectations of the most hardened medievalists.
TO THE FIRST OBJECTION, it ought to be said that Toronto is in fact suitable for human habitation, since it lies at 43° 38' North Latitude, which is not with Ultima Thule in the northernmost climate that begins at 48° N.L., according to Albertus Magnus De natura locorum, (tr. 9, c. 9); instead, the latitude of Toronto places it in the salubrious and moderate fifth climate, where it lies 9' south of Florence (43° 47' N.L.) and 23' north of the latitude of Byzantium (43° 15-1/2').
Furthermore, as Aristotle says in the first of the Nicomachean Ethics (c. 7), "one swallow does not make a summer," and similarly, one bad day need not spoil a convention, as experience proved, for October 18 was a day of splendid sunshine, with black squirrels frisking among the fallen maple leaves.
TO THE SECOND OBJECTION, that Toronto is not in the Midwest, it must be said that it is clear from the previous response that Toronto lies in the fifth climate, which is a moderate one, being located midway between the extremes of north and south, and hence, according to Pliny, in the first of the Historia Naturalis (c. 80), "its men are of medium bodily stature" and their "customs are gentle, senses clear, intellects fertile and able to grasp the whole of nature; and they also belong to organizations (isdem imperia)." Manifestly this describes the Midwestern temperament, and our conference is obviously one of the organizations to which Pliny refers.
Furthermore, Hippocrates proves that Toronto must be accounted part of the Midwest when he writes in his book on Airs, Waters, and Places (c. 1) that "the effect of any town upon the health of its inhabitants varies according as it faces north or south, east or west." And, as is plain to all, for many years past scholars have been coming to our conference from Toronto by the carload. Consequently this orientation has no doubt affected them to the Midwest.
TO THE THIRD, I respond that Shakespeare was mocking travel of the idle sort that sightseers and tourists indulge in, but the value of travel to learned conventions is approved on the authority of the prophet Daniel, who truly wrote "that many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (12:4).
From the Program: The annual Midwest Medieval Conference provides an opportunity for midwest historians to meet and discuss their common concerns and to hear reports on new dimensions of research in medieval studies. This year there is no central theme for the Conference. Rather, the papers have been programmatically chosen to celebrate the diversity of subject matter and variegated approaches to medieval studies taken by members of the Conference. Of special interest is a report and panel discussion of some of the major cooperative projects now under way in the medieval studies complex in Toronto.